5.13.2011

Bragging on my Husband

Of all the days for Blogger to go down (that's what she said), why did it have to be today? This morning, I was chomping at the bit to share some exciting news and Bloggers was MIA!

My preshus, smartie-pants hubby has made me all kinds of proud today!

Check out the video below for a comparison of his iOS app, Downcast (my sole sponsor on the right), versus one of his competitors. To see the full comparison start at 38:36, but if you want to skip to the goods go to 42:46.



Now, for those of you that don't know (probably ALL of you because I hardly know) the man in the video is Leo Laporte and is the mind behind Twit and all its podcasts and stuff that my husband enjoys nerding up on in his spare time. My hubby's app has been available in the app store for several months and he's done pretty well for an app with hardly any "press." He's been selling anywhere from 15-30 apps per day which brings in a handy chunk of extra change each month.

So imagine my surprise when he comes into the bathroom this morning while I was still in the shower (this never happens) and tells me he sold a whopping 110 Downcasts yesterday. I believe I responded, "Shut up. You did not." because we like to exaggerate for no reason sometimes. But lo, he was actually NOT kidding. I kinda freaked, but did so quietly.

He proceeds to tell me that some dood named @psxmac apparently tweeted to Sarah Lane (the lovely young lady who is actually comparing the apps in the video) that she should check out Downcast in addition to the "other" podcast app she was reviewing. Hence, the segment. And Downcast won. We are in love with @psxmac and Sarah Lane.

Tomorrow morning will reveal the number of sales for today, but really, how can it get better than 30 to 110?!?! To put into perspective for those of you who might be unimpressed based on lack of knowledge, from my a little bet less lack of knowledge point of view, seeing my husband's app reviewed on iPad Today was a little like seeing your product on Oprah's Favorite Things list. That's how it feels to me anyway. Hubs might not think it's THAT big of a deal, but I do and ...

I'M SO PROUD!!!!

5.11.2011

Older and Pottery-Wiser

When I was younger, my parents would often take us to the mountains during the summer. I did not like the mountains, I wanted to go to the beach. I thought the mountains were boring.

Oh, that naive little girl.

Now that I'm all grown up and wise, the mountains for me are a relaxing retreat that I don't get to enjoy nearly enough!

Where am I headed with this? Well, during that time as a youngin' the mountains meant my mom was going to drag me to all these stores that seemed to sell nothing but pottery. Boring 'ole home-thrown pottery from North Carolina. Snooooooze fest!

Again, how naive was I?

I've slowly and steadily becoming smitten with pottery. My mom has a collection, but my MIL has a SIZEABLE collection. They both have certain colors they gravitate towards. My mom loves the blues and browns, and my MIL loves the purples, teals, and blues. I'm right there in the middle and I'm slowing trying to grow my own collection.

Pottery is a big thing in North Carolina and it's nice to know I can get some beauties right in my own backyard. However, there's another beauty out there called etsy and sellers from across the globe sell their goodies to those who might not be so lucky to buy them locally.

I've been browsing the last few days and have fallen head over heels for these pieces by Darshan Pottery in Vermont.

Check them out:
The black is striking! I love the twisting of the blues.


I love the shape of this mug.
These are chili bowl/mugs. I want some chili now just so I can eat from these cuties!
Are you all in love yet? You should be. The black pottery is amazing.

But the colors are gorgeous, too!

One of my favorite NC potters is Steve Williams. I have a growing collection of his work in my home. My mom got me hooked when she randomly brought home some of his pieces after she visited Hendersonville, NC for a work trip. He has an adorable "Moon & Stars" pattern that is so lovely I can hardly stand it. I'm had to force myself to only share a few of his pieces with you. I would post them all if I didn't think it would bore my readers to tears.

I own this piece. It's a baking dish, but I have it on display.

I gifted the sugar and creamer set to my mom for Christmas a few years back along with a long, slim tray they sit on. They are precious.

Mom also has a couple of these unique votive holders. They are grand fun.
And the mugs! How cute is their shape! I don't drink coffee or have much use for mugs, but I could collect them in a heartbeat!
This is my hope and dream. I want these canisters like Three wants a Beggin' Strip. BAAAD.
Also this:

I found some other gorgeous jewels that I'd love to bring home with me. Etsy is the bomb, I swear. Here's some more eye-candy from some of my fave etsy shops.

First up JD Wolfe Pottery
Dang mugs! They get me every time!
Ah, but this tumbler I could actually USE!

Shut up, yes they have heart-shaped bowls. In lots of colors. Presh.

This pitcher would blend swimmingly with another I got in Blowing Rock last year. I love the handle. This one is from Suzanne's Pottery Farm.

And lastly, Rising Sky Pottery. They have yellow pottery for which I died.

Shut up, it's a mug. I know. I KNOW.

And this little guy is just gorgeous. He belongs to Hughes Pottery.

Now wipe your chins and get back to work.

The Beautiful Truth: Perseverance

I've posted a bit of yuck here lately, but today I've got some good news.

Scratch that. GREAT news.

I'm so proud to announce that I've FINALLY landed a position as a REAL LIFE Paralegal!

I've kept it kind of hush hush because it seems each time I tell the world that I've applied for a position or even gotten an interview for a position I have to come back and tell how I didn't get the job or wasn't even considered for the job. Perhaps a little modesty helped this time.

A few weeks back my division of 9 people found out that there was a legislative proposal to retain only 3 positions in our division and eliminate 6. Immediately I thought I was once again going to lose my job. Oddly enough, on that very same day, I received a job posting through my paralegal program alma mater regarding an opening for an entry-level paralegal. Understand, this NEVER happens. I've struggled to find jobs that require anything LESS than 3-5 years of experience since I graduated from the program, and they just don't exist. I jumped on this bad boy immediately.

A very few short days later (we're talking 2 or so), I get a call from the firm's paralegal manager who is based in Atlanta. He and I had a nice phone interview (my first ever) and he told me the next step would be to schedule in-person interviews to the candidates who would move on after the phone interviews. To my great surprise, I got a call from the Raleigh Office Administrator a couple days letter scheduling an interview.

Last Wednesday, I nervously went to my interview but was pleasantly surprised by how relaxed, comfortable, and welcome I felt almost immediately. I met with the Office Admin and the one other paralegal in the office. Both chats went great. The next day, I sent a thank you email like a good interviewee and got a response back asking me to come in to meet with one of the partners. WEE! So, Monday morning I went back in to meet with him and again had a wonderful meeting.

I knew they were checking my references and that's always a good sign, but since I've never worked in the private sector I really had no idea how companies handle their hiring. Maybe they were checking references of others? All kinds of ideas were swimming through my head.

But then. YESTERDAY. I got a call from my good buddy back in Atlanta offering me the position and I accepted right then and there on the phone. He told me I had been his secret first pick and then when the interview team said the same thing, they decided I was perfect and offered me the job. How flattering to hear that and that they "were honored" to have me join their team.

I've been waiting for this for 3 years. I felt like giving up so many times assuming I'd never find a job opportunity at any decent place that was willing to take a beginner. But clearly, this is the Lord's GIANT hand at play here. Perseverance and patience (even though I didn't feel patient at times) has paid off. I can only hope that the experience at the new firm is the cherry on top.

I'm excited, nervous, scared and totally THRILLED to start this journey in my career.

5.09.2011

The Ugly Truth about Mother's Day

I've debated all morning about whether or not to post about Mother's Day 2011. I'm sure my husband will read this and tell me I should take it down before someone runs to my mom telling her to read her daughter's blog. But I decided that this IS MY blog and I'll write what I feel. I'll write what I can't seem to say to anyone other than my husband and God love him, sometimes that's just not enough. Other ears and hearts should be open to hearing what I feel and think, but for the past 10 years, those ears and hearts seem closed and not accessible which has caused me a lot of pain.

All week last week I saw girls replacing their Facebook profile pictures with pics of their dear mothers, or pics of them with their dear mothers and reading wall posts about how great and wonderful their mothers are and how their mothers are their best friends and blah, blah, blah. I'll admit, this grossed me out and made me feel nothing but ickyness toward those people. Clearly, it's not that I think a mother-child relationship is icky, but I know in my heart, it's jealousy.

Many of you know that almost 10 years ago my dad became brain-injured after open-heart surgery at the WORLD HELL-HOLE of a medical center and the same one WHO RUINS FAMILIES' LIVES, Duke University Medical Center. I cringe to even type those letters. Over the course of the past 10 years, I've watched my mom care for my dad, continue to work 40 hour work weeks, travel for work, and still try to be normal to the best of her ability. She's made it, but not unscathed.

My mom is a broken soul caring for a broken shell of a husband if you even still want to call him that. The story of the 10 years in between is too long and detailed to get into here, but has left me feeling parent-less. Not only did I for sure lose my dad, but his shell has taken my mom from me and has destroyed the mother-daughter future we could have had. I have tried to convey that to her, but I never know if the message gets through because before the conversations are over, the focus turns back to how very hard life is on her.

As selfish as it sounds, my feelings feel meaningless because I know my mom can always trump me. I've not felt there was any room for my feelings in 10 years because no matter what I have felt, my mom has felt it times 1,000. So I've just shut the hell up. I've told Seth and no one else. No one else get its.

You ask what I'm doing for my mom for Mother's Day? How was my Mother's Day? Was it a great day? Did you cook? What did you get her?

Truth: It sucked. She asked for nothing, I gave her nothing. The moodiness and grumpiness and passive-aggressive side in us all came out making for an awkward evening held up SOLELY by my caring husband who wanted nothing more than to diffuse the evening.

I'm guilty of the moodiness sometimes, too, but this time I honestly couldn't have cared less. The night before, I knew my mom was driving back from Cullowhee, NC, which was about a 5-6 hour drive. I texted her to make sure she was driving safely. I got 2 blank texts back. I called her thinking something might have been wrong with her phone and she basically yelled at me. Gee. Sorry I was trying to check to make sure you were driving safely. I won't do it again.

So I was bothered by what seemed to me an over-reaction. The "woe is me" vibe follows pretty much everyone in my family like a shadow. You never know what you're going to get when they walk in the door, myself included on occasion.

Mother's Day and certainly Father's Day are only reminders that my family is completely effed-up. That my mother isn't happy and that my father isn't here. That no matter what I do for my mom, it doesn't make her life better. That moods can shift in a matter of seconds bringing the "weather" in the room from sunshine and rainbows to dark clouds and thunder. For no discernible reason.

So, no, we didn't have a good Mother's Day. I just wanted it to end so the interwebs would stop blabbing about it and how great their mother's are. Mine is sad and broken and I miss her.

5.05.2011

Excuse Me, This is Fabulous

Installment 2 of EMTIF brings 3 semi-OK photos taken by my trusty iPhone. See, sometimes you just might come across something fabulous that's NOT online and an image can't be so easily borrowed. I certainly don't haul my camera to work with me everyday either. So my iPhone and its might mega-pixels are my go-to guys when I just can't wait to share the fab.

As I was flipping through my latest Real Simple, I turned page 121 to see this photo staring back at me from page 123.
Aren't they fabulous? Not only is the photo itself gorgeous, but those glasses are just TDF. I think they're probably a bit large for my face, but I love that they are navy and the white detailing is so classic.

These Alexander McQueen beauties will set you back $325 so don't run out to the sto' just yet.

5.02.2011

Mulch Appreciated

After four weekends of bad weather, cold temps, and tornadoes, we finally had a perfect weekend to get some much (or mulch) needed yard work started.

Early Saturday morning, my brother came over with his truck and he and the hubs went to our local mulchery (I think I made that word up) and loaded up with 2 cubic yards of lovely brown mulch.
It was a little more than $50 for a loaded truck-bed full and that seemed like a good deal. The last time we mulched we were in our previous house and we went the way of "buying bags and bags from Lowe's" and hated it. It was much better this time and we had the perfect tools to make the job feel like less of a struggle. More on that in a minute.

The hardest part of the day was for the boys - unloading the truck. I have no pictures of this event because I was trying to be helpful, but see if you can visualize. We laid out a large blue tarp on our driveway and the boys proceeded to shovel all the mulch from truck to tarp. It took about 15 minutes or so. I hopped into the truck bed with my trusty yellow broom and swept out what was left after the shoveling. It was fun.

After the great unload, I made a run to Lowe's to get some gloves, a pitchfork and a bow rake.

These are the 2 tools you need to make your mulching experience enjoyable and easy! We decided that using a pitchfork instead of a shovel was like using a spoon rather than a fork to eat yogurt. The pitchfork goes right into the mulch and picks up tons whereas using that shovel only makes it harder on you and you wear yourself out quickly.

Additionally, the rake saved my back. Seth would pitch the mulch into the wheelbarrow, then bring it to me and dump it, and I used the rake to spread it out. SO MU(L)CH easier. We agreed that when you have the right tools for any job, it makes a world of difference. It only took us a couple of hours to put mulch out in the front and down the side of the driveway.

We did have some major weeding to do before we put down the mulch. We had long neglected our landscaping since we uprooted our crape myrtles last summer.

Here's what we started with:

Here's the driveway about half-way through.
And here we are after:

Please ignore our clumpy, spotty grass. We have two types of grass in our yard and will eventually till it all up and start fresh, but I don't think that's in the cards for this year.

There was barely enough mulch to cover the area around our butterfly bush in the backyard, but we managed to spread it thin enough to at least make it look nice:

We planted this guy last fall and were semi-afraid we'd murdered it, but he came back nice and purty a month or so ago and I'm just waiting for his lovely purple cones to blossom! We're going to get more mulch to thicken his bed up and also to spread along the entire right side of our house. (Side note, I'd seriously never even been on the right side of our house until Saturday. Weird, right?) We thought 2 cubic yards would be a ton, but I think we could've used one or two more!

Another long overdue (but not really our problem) project we tackled was thinning out the mess around the bottom of a crape myrtle tree that's technically on our neighbor's property but blocks our view of the street when pulling out of our driveway. Our neighbor's house is actually some sort of a convalescent home and the folks living there don't do any yard work. They have someone that comes by on occasion to cut the grass, but that's about it. The builder/seller of our home told us they wouldn't mind us doing some pruning and in fact they sort of welcomed it.

Again, here's what we started with:
This last shot is me standing in the driveway shooting parallel to the street. All the crud at the bottom totally blocked our view when pulling out into the street. Luckily, we live on a quiet street and it's usually not a problem, but I always worried about people walking and dogs - not as easy to see behind this junk as a car!

We grabbed all the tools we had. Some big ole limb cutters, the FatMax saw, the weed eater and a rake and had at it.
(Pardon my blue picture, I didn't set the white balance and all my pictures came out blue.
This one I forgot to edit. Get over it.)

Here's the after:
Again, this last shot is me standing at the same point parallel to the street as I referenced above. Kind of a big difference, don't you think?

We found all kinds of craziness while cleaning up this area. It looks like the tree has put off a bunch of shoots and most of what we cut away were crape myrtle shoots that were just a pain and not pretty. We even found some lovely monkey grass in there which I insisted we keep. There was even a strawberry in the mix!
I wanted to save the strawberry, but I think the weed eater got him. I'm sure it made for a lovely snack for one of the birds that was hopping all through the grass on Saturday!

Last but not least, we sawed down this dead tree on our neighbor's property. It's clearly dead so we figured it wasn't ours, but who would want a dead tree in their yard?
He smelled good after we cut him, though!

There was one area we didn't get to that's our next small project.
This area is right at the end of our fence and right on the edge of the driveway and we think is technically ours. We wanted to mulch around it but ran out before we could get to it. The main tree in that clump is a pecan tree and it litters its goods all over our driveway in the fall. There's also some lovely irises there and although you can't really see it, they have some pretty purple flowers on them right now. We really need to rake that area out and give it some fresh mulch.

Also on our to-do list for the yard:
  • Mulch the right side of the house (I also want to plant lots of hostas down that side, too.
  • Have stump grinders come in and rid us of the stump left over from last year's great tree murder.
  • Plant plants! We've done nothing but take out. It's time to put in!